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Archives and Collections
The California African American Museum collects, preserves, interprets, and displays materials that honor the contributions of African Americans to world history and culture. The museum’s art collection focuses on works created by African American artists from the 1800s to the present. It also includes traditional African art and contemporary art by those of the African Diaspora. The museum’s historical collection consists of documents, photographs, artifacts, and other material culture of African Americans, with an emphasis on documenting the experiences of African Americans in California and the American West from the late 1900s to the present. In the museum’s archival collection are books, periodicals, research materials, audio recordings, videos, vintage films, and other artifacts relating to African Americans. Materials specific to Los Angeles are found in the Miriam Matthews Photographic Collection, which contains images depicting African American subjects in Los Angeles from the 1880s to the 1970s collected by California’s first African American librarian; the Vassie D. Wright Collection, which consists of African American literary and historical works donated by the founder and the members of the local Our Authors Study Club; the Walter Burrell Collection, which comprises audio recordings of Burrell’s interviews with African American celebrities, which were broadcast by a local radio station in the early 1970s; and the oral histories collected from Celes King, a member of the family that owned the Dunbar Hotel, local civil rights activist, and former Tuskegee airman, and from John Outterbridge, a visual artist who has been based in Los Angeles since the 1960s and is renowned for his assemblages and for his mentoring of younger artists.